OWEN HART's Death, What Really Happened - From Those Who Were There
Pro Wrestling Stories vol2_FI

Published on May 16th, 2015 | by Pro Wrestling Stories

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OWEN HART’S DEATH

What Really Happened – From Those Who Were There

RIP Owen Hart (1965-1999)

OWEN HART (Five months before his death):

“When my contract is up, I’m out of wrestling. I’ve made plans. I’ve been smart with my fiscal affairs. Financially, I’ll be set. I really want to devote a lot of time to my family. I’ve bought some property on a lake. I plan on doing a lot of boating and fishing. I want to continue to stay in shape. And who knows, I might do ten weeks a year in Japan. Something just to motivate me to keep in shape, keep involved a little bit but not have to deal with the politics, the pressures that are so intense right now. I’ve paid my dues for twelve years now. If I continue for five more, that’s seventeen years working at a pretty hard clip. I think that at that point my family, my wife and kids, have been compromised enough…”

JIMMY KORDERAS [referee]:

“I heard screaming. I didn’t hear exactly what the screaming was…I was told later that it was [Owen yelling at me to move out of the way]. It would not have been out of character at all for Owen to do that. Meaning, I was very close to becoming a more tragic part of that story than people realize…”

VINCE RUSSO:

“The whole idea just started so innocently… We had brought back Owen’s old gimmick, The Blue Blazer. He was meant to be like a superhero, but a spoof on a superhero – to really get over the comedic genius of Owen Hart. It was probably the Friday before the show, the show’s already written – I get a call from Steve Taylor [WWF V.P of operations]. He goes, ‘Look, I just got a call from the people who propel Sting from the rafters [in rival WCW]. They said they’re gonna be at our pay-per-view…they wanna know if there is anything they may be able to do for the WWE…’ So while he’s telling me this I’m looking through the show…and I see Owen. And I’m saying, ‘Well, that’d really elevate Owen’s character, that’d be something really special and cool for Owen…what if we propelled The Blue Blazer?”

STING:

“I know what it’s like to be up there when you have 10-to-20,000 fans screaming at a fevered pitch. Music, lasers, lights, and you need to go down on your cue and all… Man, there’s a lot of chaos all at one time, and you can’t even hear yourself think…”

VINCE RUSSO:

“So now during the day [of the PPV] Owen comes up to me and what he said was, ‘I rehearsed propelling from the ceiling…but when I propel down, it takes me awhile to get my harness off. If [Owen’s opponent] the Godfather is in the ring first and then I propel and I gotta take this harness off, the Godfather could pummel me…’ See, everyone [at that time] was thinking, ‘Real, real, real; reality’, so he said, ‘Could my entrance come first…THEN have The Godfather come out? I said, ‘Owen, no problem – I’ll make the changes, no problem…’ And that was it. That was the extent of our conversation.”

JIM CORNETTE:

“Guys can get hurt. They’re risking their lives, but that [stunt] was completely unnecessary. It was something that Owen was asked to do that he was not comfortable with. Still to this day I blame Vince Russo, like a lot of people do, because, for those who don’t know, Owen, instead of being able to do a normal entrance into the ring and have a wrestling match, which is dangerous enough, they decided that he would make a superhero entrance and be lowered into the ring in this outlandish costume that Russo had booked him to be in and was being lowered by a rigging company that didn’t check the rigging or whatever and there were lawsuits…”

NOTE: Owen had already performed a variation of the stunt at an earlier date. With the standard (safer) full harness and slow release clip the stunt took too long to disengage and, it was decided by all involved, made for ‘bad television’. For the PPV ‘Over The Edge’ where the fatal accident occurred, it was decided that the stunt would be done using a ‘nautical clip’ which was “designed expressly for the quick release of a sailboat mast.” It is alleged that several stunt coordinators were asked to test it, but all but one refused, declaring it “crazy.” See video below.


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  • http://prowrestlingstories.com Pro Wrestling Stories

    For those interested, Owen Hart interview as quoted in this write up in full.

    OWEN HART (speaking just 5 months before his untimely death) talks about his career; how he was treated after the ‘Montreal Screwjob’; and the dreams he sadly would not live to see:

    “When my contract is up, I’m out of wrestling. I’ve made plans. I’ve been smart with my fiscal affairs. Financially, I’ll be set. I really want to devote a lot of time to my family.
    I’ve bought some property on a lake. I plan on doing a lot of boating and fishing. I want to continue to stay in shape. And who knows, I might do ten weeks a year in Japan. Something just to motivate me to keep in shape, keep involved a little bit but not have to deal with the politics, pressures that are so intense right now.

    [A lot of guys] have to get down to reality when they get out of wrestling. There’s not much for them. Laymen’s jobs – pumping gas, whatever, it’s kind of sad. You see wrestlers who were big time stars and they get out of wrestling and there’s nothing. They don’t have the proper education and the proper fundamentals to get into the real world.

    This business is very addictive. I’ve seen many people say I’m quitting or I’m getting out of it and just can’t.

    I’ve paid my dues for twelve years now. If I continue for five more, that’s seventeen years working at a pretty hard clip. I think that at that point my family – my wife and kids – have been compromised enough. I need to start focusing on my family and letting go of wrestling.
    I used to want to be a fireman. And to get on with the fire department, you need to put together a resume working with high-pressure hoses, working at heights, stuff like that.

    I went and got jobs like irrigation work, pipe lining, working laying sod where we had to spray this high-pressure peat moss on the ground. I even got a job working on roofs.

    It showed that I wasn’t scared working at heights.

    I’ve done it all. I had paper routes when I was a kid. Did a lot of manual labour and stuff to help pay my way through university. The scholarships you get in university are pretty lame. I had all kinds of jobs.

    And of course wrestling, I sold programs, set up rings, I used to be the music man for years…

    I went three years to university. And I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Because I certainly would have regretted not getting into wrestling. It’s been very lucrative for me and I’ve been fortunate to get into it and make money and not do anything stupid where I invested in something that collapsed. I’ve been fortunate to still have something to hang on to.

    But if I could do anything differently, it would have been a couple more years to further my college and stuff, it would have been ideal. You know, that’s the thing, you get on TV and you become more of a star and it makes it real hard to go back to school and sit in a classroom, put your hand up if you have a question or something. They say, ‘Hey, that’s Owen Hart…’ You kind of want to go incognito.

    That’s the thing. You can make all this money in wrestling and then I would like to kind of just disappear, from wrestling fans and stuff. I don’t want to forget the fans and what they’ve done. They’ve supported me and stuff, but at the same time, I’d like to just … I don’t want to be hanging on like one of these wrestlers who’s sixty years old, saying, ‘Hey, I’m a wrestler.’
    Let it go. Make your money out of it and get on.

    One good thing about the WWF right now is the harmony is very good. There’s no dissension or tension. I feel real comfortable. I get along with everybody.

    I was kind of worried after the Hart Foundation left. I had all my family, it was kind of a big faction, and they all left one by one. I was the last one. But it really didn’t have any bearing. I’m still the same and everyone else treats me still the same.

    I wish they were back with WWF, the rest of the Foundation. By me staying in the WWF, I can keep an anchor there and somehow get them back in the WWF if they ever choose to come.
    When this whole affair [the Montreal Screwjob] came about with Vince McMahon and Bret — the first thing I did, I called Vince that night, right after it happened.

    I felt it was in my best interests not to go on the road for a few days, because I didn’t want to be around the other wrestlers, I didn’t want to be around the agents. I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to be around anybody until this all died down.

    I negotiated with Vince over a period of weeks. I said it would not be in my best interests to continue to work for him.

    When your brother just punches the boss, the same guy I’ve got to work for, how am I going to get a fair shake? He assured me I would be given a fair deal and there would be nothing held against me. He said it had nothing to do with me.

    I’m very close to Bret. Our relationship is very close. I was really hurt by what they did to him.

    Vince assured me, ‘This isn’t going to happen to you…’

    Anyways, then we re-negotiated. This went over two or three times because I was too apprehensive to say ‘Okay, that’ll be great and I’ll continue working here.’ I’d go back and think about it more and go back and talk to Vince and say, ‘I just feel uneasy about everything.’ And I told him, ‘I’ve been talking to Bret and I told him that you said I could trust you. Then again, Vince…you told Bret he could trust you. And after fourteen years, look at what you did to him. So how can I take your word literally, Vince?’

    And he said, ‘Don’t worry. I assure you we’ll be good to you.’

    The bottom line is he said, ‘We are not willing to let you go…you’re under contract. And you’re young. You’re much younger than the rest of the Hart Foundation guys and we see that you’ve got lots of talent, you’ve got lots of experience, you’ve got no hang-ups.’
    I’ve never had any problems with the company. I wasn’t injured at the time. I don’t have any drug afflictions or whatever. He said, ‘You’re perfect, you’re a role model guy to have in the company. I just cannot afford to lose you.’

    It made me feel good in a lot of ways.

    It would be disheartening if he’d said, ‘We don’t want you. You can go.’ That would make me feel like I didn’t have any value.

    Going out and performing…it’s an art. Whether it was against the Undertaker, or Vader, these big giant guys – I remember thinking, how can I have a good match with them? How am I going to go up there and convince these people that I’ve actually got a chance of winning? [Then] coming back and saying, wow, those people were really entertained. They really thought that I had a chance. When you go out there and even beat them [and] people believe it…that’s unbelievable, you know?

    How do I want [my fans] to remember me?

    I want them to remember me as a guy who was diverse in his talents, could fight anybody and have a good match I’d like fans to remember me as a guy who would go out and entertain them, give them quality matches. Not just the same old garbage every week…”

    (Source: slam! Wrestling, interviewed by G.Oliver, December 1998)

  • I’m a Seth Rollins Mark

    Rip Owen

  • Tre Billis

    I have my little story on this. As mentioned above Bret was on his way to do the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I was making my first visit to LA (from Detroit) that week and I was in line to go see Bret Hart on the Tonight Show that day when I was told Bret was cancelling due to Owen dying in the ring the day before. What a shocker. Bret was going to wrestle Kevin Nash live on that show. Will always remember that day. Also, on the show that day were Hugh Grant and Vladi Divac.

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